Nil Nikandrov – US and NATO in Libya: International banditry turned into legitimate strategy

1 May 2011 — Strategic Culture Foundation

As of today, Libyan security service seems successful at keeping M. Gadhafi safe amidst the West’s air raids. Targeting him, NATO drones dropped ‘point strikes’ which left schools, hospitals, and shopping malls in ruins, but Libya’s defiant leader remained unharmed. The Libyan security service also manages to shield Gadhafi from the death squads sent by the CIA, MI6, Mossad, and BND which are literally rivaling over his head.

Following a series of consultations, Pentagon chief R. Gates and UK Secretary of State for Defence L. Fox synchronously expressed the view that any shelters from which Gadhafi might be exercising control over his army are legitimate targets. British Foreign Secretary William Hague supplied the underlying political philosophy of the hunt for Libya’s leader by pledging to pursue it until Gadhafi bows to the Western coalition’s demands. The message to be heard is: if he does not capitulate, there is going to be no mercy. By the way, Commander of Operation Unified Protector, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard from Canada faced a media quiz with less determination: he maintained that the coalition was not trying to kill Gadhafi but simply bombed the destinations from which his orders to open fire on civilians might be coming. Gen. Bouchard did not elaborate any further, essentially limiting his statement to something like: war is war, and Gadhafi may be unlucky to get hit like anybody else.

The immoral and inhumane character of the Western coalition’s campaign in Libya ignites protests worldwide. Venezuela’s H. Chavez slammed NATO over the lawless air raids which are killing hundreds of civilians and causing huge material damages. He said the Western coalition bombed army barracks, schools, and shopping malls simply because the West hated Gadhafi and dreamed of control over Libya’s oil. The leaders of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Cuba similarly criticized the offensive against Libya and called for immediately putting an end to it. ALBA leaders who from the outset kept in touch with Libya’s government and therefore have no difficulty grasping the situation in the country in detail espouse a peaceful resolution of the whole web of problems. Last February Chavez proposed dispatching to the country a mission staffed by representatives of Latin American, European, and Middle Eastern countries, but the US, France, Italy, and a few other European countries were predictably unresponsive. In fact, Tripoli also rejected at the initial phase of the campaign Chavez’s idea to empower an international mission to organize negotiations between the government and the insurgents in Libya, but softened its stance after several high-ranking officials from the Libyan civilian administration and army fled to the West. Gadhafi has to take into account the likelihood of being betrayed and handed over to the West – in any case, he would rather end his days in a fight as a soldier. So far Gadhafi relies on the time-delaying tactic in the hope that sooner or later cracks will appear in the Western coalition.

Gadhafi’s envoys visited Caracas during the fighting in Libya. According to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, the discussions revolved around options for ending the confrontation and the potential role of ALBA in launching a peace process. Maduro indicated that the group of Latin American countries currently volunteering assistance is not limited to ALBA but also includes Mexico, Columbia, Peru, and Chile. The Libyan delegation’s landing in Venezuela coincided in time with the meeting of foreign ministers of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which convened in Caracas and reserved a line on its agenda for the situation in Libya. A draft resolution based on the ALBA statement urging to take serious steps towards a peace deal in Libya was floated at the meeting, but the vote was postponed indefinitely due to the position of representatives of the right bloc who – not risking to openly torpedo it – alleged that they needed to consult their governments over the matter.

Chavez is eager to mediate between the government and the insurgents in Libya with the goal of helping the opponents open some kind of dialog, but the plan is unlikely to materialize. So far, Washington – preoccupied with curbing Chavez’s influence in international affairs – used to stifle his likewise initiatives in other parts of the world. For example, Chavez attempted to broker a deal between Alvaro Uribe’s government and the FARC-ELN guerillas in Columbia and managed to convince the latter to release a group of hostages, but further talks were suspended under Washington’s pressure.

Chavez made it clear that Gadhafi’s envoys were looking for mediators capable of promoting a conflict resolution in Libya and that drawing Brazil into the orbit of the process topped the Libyan government’s wishlist. At the moment their chances for success appear slim – Brazilian president Dilma Vana Rousseff’s priorities lie in the sphere of the country’s domestic affairs and, in contrast to her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, she prefers to keep a low profile internationally.

Russian premier V. Putin made a strongly worded statement on Libya during his recent tour of Denmark, asserting that the West’s offensive against Libya and hunt for Gadhafi were by no means authorized by the UN Security Council’s resolution. ‘They said they didn’t want to kill Gaddafi. Now some officials say, yes, we are trying to kill Gaddafi. Who permitted this, was there any trial? Who took on the right to execute this man, no matter who he is?’, said Putin.

Russian premier V. Putin must be credited with speaking up when almost everybody else is afraid to. Questioning the point of the intervention in Libya’s internal armed conflict which, as he stressed, grew out of the country’s domestic discord, V. Putin went on to say: ‘Is there a lack of crooked regimes in the world? What, are we going to intervene in internal conflicts everywhere? When the entire so-called civilised community falls upon a small country with all its might, destroys infrastructure created over generations – I don’t know, is that good or not? I don’t like it’.

Aware of V. Putin’s position, Gadhafi explainably expects Moscow to lend him a hand. His envoys asked Russia to convene an urgent UN Security Council meeting to focus on ‘the international coalition’s aggression against Libya’. Russian watchers are invited to monitor the situation in the country. As parallel processes, Tripoli is probing into Beijing’s readiness to get involved and pushing for an extraordinary African Union summit. The Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union R. Lamamra opined that the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya and the NATO air raids failed to produce positive results and a real crisis resolution is yet to be achieved.

Details of the coming overland operation to be launched by NATO in Libya have been leaked to the public recently, no usual role played by WikiLeaks. The stated goal of the humanitarian mission somewhat unexpectedly to be joined by formerly dissenting Germany is to protect the civilian population in Libya. The plan spanning a period of four months following the initial deployment phase and applying to all of Libya’s territory includes the seizure of the country’s seaports and aerodromes. They will be used to deliver humanitarian aid, presuming that foreign troops and armoured vehicles should count as such. In other words, Libya is about to be dragged into a full-scale war on the ground and in the air. For NATO humanists, the international banditry has become a legitimate strategy.

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